Pramod K. Nayar
DECENTERING TRANSLATION STUDIES: INDIA AND BEYOND by Judy Wakabayashi Orient BlackSwan, Noida, 2014, 223 pp., 485
August 2014, volume 38, No 8

Judy Wakabayashi and Rita Kothari’s Decentering Translation Studies: India and Beyond, now in its Indian edition, seeks to unearth what the Introduction calls the ‘local stories of translation’, premised on the assumption that local cultures and contexts determine the nature of translation and translation theory. Frankly acknowledging the dominance of western practices and experiences of translation in Translation Studies, the editors present an urgent cultural-political need to look at traditional models and modes of translation that have long been regarded, in these West-centric studies as ‘backward’. Thus questions of ‘originality’, or ‘authenticity’ are not part of translation matters in say India or Japan as it is in the West for the simple reason that in these cultures there is no ‘fixity’ to texts in the oral form and every iteration of the text is free to pursue its own logic with no reference to an authoritative ‘author’ or ‘original’ (p. 4). Given these massive cultural differences in notions of the text, author or ‘the original’, we need to de-westernize translation studies and bring in ‘translational practices and ideas from non-mainstream traditions’ (p. 5), even as the very term or concept of ‘translation’ begins to be redefined.

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